Community in Palestine has always meant family and food- dozens of family members and lots of food. Community in Palestine looks like communal sized pots filled with fresh chicken, quartered onions, cardamom and steaming broth; women finely chopping handpicked molokhia leaves that were tenderly cultivated on well cared for earth; platters of dried, flat, bread soaked with steaming chicken broth, then layered with rice and topped with fried pine nuts and slivered almonds. Also included are Molokhia and Fatta, a common meal to feed extended family and friends.
Community in Palestine, (and when I say community in Palestine, I am including the Diaspora community), is just like any other community with problems and conflicts, but multiply those problems and conflicts. When you experience trauma, humiliation, abuse, oppression repeatedly something in you is bound to eventually break.
Community in Palestine is a complicated thing when you consider the Diaspora. We have family in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Iraq, Palestine, West Bank, Israel, Gaza, London, Egypt, Jordan … Palestine has become complicated. We know no borders because of the Diaspora and yet we are imprisoned by borders that keep us out, in, away, confined, locked out, locked in, locked away and without mobility. Memories of what community is in Palestine and for myself as a Palestinian is bittersweet. The distance between my homeland, my motherland and I, has always been bitter. I was born in Baghdad, Iraq among a very small community of Palestinian refugees. We were a minority in Iraq but treated well and protected. In coming to the U.S. my mother made our home a refuge for many. Her kitchen was always lively with the smell of garlic frying on the stove and the clanking of pots. Many stateless single male cousins that dared to leave everything they knew behind while hoping for a future without war sat in her kitchen finding refuge and community around our table and in the meals my mother lovingly and generously fed them.
by Rana Hekman